Every now and again I’m asked about conferences and whether they’re worth attending. My answer is always, yes so long as you plan carefully.
Over the years I’ve attended hundreds of cybersecurity conferences all over the world, and participated as an attendee, speaker, chair, and advisor. All these roles have enabled me to gain an understanding of conferences through different lenses.
When it comes to attending in person conferences, I’ve always found they provide invaluable benefits that go beyond just gaining new knowledge and networking opportunities. The energy and enthusiasm that comes from being amongst like-minded individuals has boosted my motivation and inspiration to higher levels. And that’s despite being an introvert!
In person cybersecurity conferences aren’t just gatherings for tech enthusiasts; they’re the heartbeat of the cybersecurity world. Whenever I’m talking to someone about attending one, I often describe the best conferences like this:
“Just imagine walking into a room filled with the greatest minds in the field, an arena where cutting-edge technologies are unveiled, revolutionary strategies are discussed, and global threats are dissected. Attending an in person conference is like taking a deep dive into the future, while still having your feet firmly planted in the realities of today’s digital landscape!”
If you’re in the cybersecurity space and you’re not attending these in person conferences, you’re missing out on game-changing opportunities.
Attending an in person conference that meets your needs allows you to immerse yourself in an environment filled with innovative ideas, allowing you to view your work and industry from different perspectives. By participating in sessions and discussions, you can gain valuable insights and feedback that can help you improve your own skills and performance. They offer you the chance to form meaningful connections with people who share your passions – something that can’t be easily replicated through digital interactions. Overall, attending conferences in person not only helps your career but also can leave you feeling energised and reinvigorated.
Why more women should attend in person cybersecurity conferences
Even though women have made significant strides in cybersecurity, the industry sadly remains male-dominated. Although representation is improving, this is where in-person cybersecurity conferences play a pivotal role.
Attending conferences can be an enriching experience for women in cybersecurity. They offer a unique opportunity to network with peers, learn from industry experts, and stay up to date on the latest industry trends. Conferences are essentially environments where professionals in the field come together to share knowledge and insights. By attending these events, women can expand their knowledge and skillset, allowing them to grow their careers. Conferences also provide a platform for women to showcase their expertise, to use their voices, and be seen as valuable integrated members of the industry, which is important for career advancement and eliminating stereotype bias. Additionally, networking at conferences can help women build relationships that can lead to new job opportunities and collaborations. Overall, attending in person conferences and exploiting the opportunities there, is an investment in your professional development, and can yield immeasurable benefits.
That’s why women must be enabled, and encouraged, to attend by their employers. By doing so, it allows us to not only create a culture of diversity and inclusion but improve the talent crisis the industry is currently facing.
Tips for getting the most out of a conference
Attending a conference, whatever your level, can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if you’re neurodivergent, a women, an introvert, or simply a newbie. With so much information to absorb and so many people to network with, it can be difficult to know just where to start. Many people find it especially challenging to find the balance between fully participating and not over-scheduling. So, to make the most out of your in person conference experience and leave the conference feeling better informed, inspired, and connected, here are four tips I recommend you use:
- Conferences differ enormously. Some are more technical than others, some niche on one aspect of security (e.g., risk, the human side, IAM, cloud, etc) or on group identity, like gender or leadership level, and some offer a good choice of topics. Conferences can also include exhibitors and range in size with some being huge and others being tiny. So, think about what you want to get out of a conference and pick a few to attend.
- Do your research before the conference starts and create a plan that meets your needs. If you’re a woman consider buddying up with other women who are attending. Ask on LinkedIn, in networks you belong to, or reach out to the conference organisers to find out if they have a per-event meet up planned. Some do, and many women appreciate this as it helps them feel safer and less alone when attending. If you’re neurodivergent or an introvert, find out where the quiet spaces are, and try to factor in extra breaks so you can recharge. If this isn’t clear from the conference website or brochure, contact the conference organisers.
- Find out who the keynote speakers are, which panels interest you, and if exhibitors are present, which ones you want to visit. Research them prior and have questions for them. That way, you can prioritise your time, making sure you attend the most important sessions, and getting the most value from your time with the people you encounter.
- Always be an active listener during talks and presentations. Take notes, ask questions, and engage with the speakers after their talks. Many enjoy this. Consider sharing your experience on social media during your time there so others who can’t attend can get value. Additionally, blogging afterwards as this share not only helps others, but it helps you cement your learning as well as elevating your profile online.
- Network outside of the scheduled sessions, too. Strike up conversations with fellow attendees, be interested in them, and whenever possible exchange contact details.
- Be aware of the conference’s code of conduct. You need to understand the rules, abide by them, and know what to do in case you have a problem.
Showcasing SECURE London, an ISC2 conference
SECURE London is a premium in person conference, created by ISC2 and this September it’s returning. This gathering offers a unique experience for ISC2 members and non-members ranging from mid-career cybersecurity professionals to C-suite cybersecurity leaders professionals – those who looking to stay ahead of the game in the ever-changing world of cybersecurity. It’s also a good fit for IT professionals in governance, risk and compliance, and cloud security.
The event provides access to well-known experts, keynote speakers, and industry leaders who’ll share their thoughts and knowledge on the latest cybersecurity trends. Session highlights include:
- Why Effective Third-Party Management is Critical for Robust Cyber Resilience
- Cloud Security: What You Need to Know About Data Protection
- Shadow IT: How to Identify and Mitigate Risks
- AI Approaches to Information System Vulnerabilities
With plenty of interactive sessions, workshops, and engaging discussions, attendees will have the chance to network with peers and learn about new products and services in the industry.
In person cybersecurity conferences provide a unique and invaluable opportunity to network with professionals, exchange innovative ideas, and explore different opportunities. Due to a lack of gender diversity in the cybersecurity industry, these events are more important than ever to help women progress and achieve their personal goals. With helpful tips such as creating a clear event goal beforehand and networking with fellow attendees, everyone can use these events to get the most out of their experience.
Now I want you to do this…
The upcoming SECURE London conference is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to attend an in person cybersecurity conference this autumn and to take the next step towards furthering their career. So don’t wait – sign up for SECURE London now! Remember: nothing jumpstarts your career faster than attending an in person ISC2 conference, like SECURE London.
Register now and take advantage of early bird pricing until 21st August – https://bit.ly/SECURELondonJF
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware that I’ve received compensation for promoting this #ad for ISC2. Because your success is important to me, I only align myself with brands I believe in, and ISC2 is one of them.